The McKinsey Global Institute just released a fascinating new iPad app, Urban World. Urban World provides users with a visually engaging way to explore urbanization for over 2,600 cities. You can read more about the project in detail right here.
The app also places urbanization in a historical context, using a view from space of the global nighttime distribution of light as a proxy for the global distribution of economic activity. Users can visualize the worlds shifting center of economic gravity during the past two millennia, to 2025. The app serves a purpose similar to a 16th-century mapa rough but helpful tool to help navigate the evolving urban world.
The above graphic compares the entire population of Europe to the population of China.
The graphic above shows that in 2010 the GDP of Los Angeles exceeded that of the entire country of Indonesia.